Rave: The Facts About Privacy, Ownership and Accountability in Social Networking

While there is no
question that the evolution of social media has made it an integral part of the
social and professional lives of practically everyone with internet access or a
smart phone, it wasn’t really until this past year or so that we saw the
question of accountability, ownership and privacy posed by even the most beginner of social networking users.  It’s true
that Facebook, Twitter and Instagram provide incredible (and free) services that allow you to connect and share within a global community, bringing with
it a world of brand new opportunities on a personal and professional level. However,
without properly understanding your online rights and responsibilities, you can
put yourself at real risk. We know that
reading the extensive privacy policies and legalese of these services can be
trying and confusing, so we’ve put together a basic guide (with helpful resources) to “The Big Three” social
networking sites to help you make informed decisions, and get the most out of your
social networking experience.


Facebook

2012 saw a number of
changes to the Facebook privacy policy – for one, it’s no longer referred to as
a “privacy policy” but rather a “data use policy.” It is definitely tricky to keep up with
all of the changes, and although it may sound excessive, we recommend revisiting your exposure
about once a month to ensure you are aware of what information you are sharing
with the world.  Due to a higher demand
of transparency when it comes to audience, Facebook’s newest changes include a
pretty straightforward tool to see who can see the posts on your timeline (look
at the lock icon next to Home at the top right of your Facebook page, as well
as asterisk icon next to Post when you’re writing on a timeline).

Things you should know:
– Facebook statuses
invoking copyright protection over your timeline are not legally binding and in most cases, completely useless. These
posts often go viral and can be misleading; to better understand what is being
said, check out this post.
– Some things on
Facebook are always public. Posts on public pages, gender, profile
pictures and cover photo are just a few examples. This is great if you want to lurk your ex (or
his new girlfriend’s) profile pics but keep in mind it may not be so great when
potential employers are looking at your sloppy college party profile pictures
from five years ago. 
– Contrary to popular hysteria, Facebook does not own your materials you post even after you’ve deleted/deactivated/died but in signing up and accepting their terms of service you are agreeing
to let them use your shared content. When you delete your content or account, that
agreement ends but it is important to keep in mind that any photo/status/post
that you have made that has been shared by anyone else will continue to float
around the Facebook universe.
– Deactivation vs Deletion: When
you deactivate your account, your information and shared content continues to
exist until that point when you (admit it, inevitably) give in and come
back.  If you delete your account, your
information and shared content will be deleted from the Facebook database. Things to note about deleting your
Facebook account: 1) It is, in fact, permanent. No takie backsies. 2) As stated above, any shared content will still exist in the databases. 3) In many cases, it can take
as long as three months to delete your information and content completely.
– Buck up: even Mark Zuckerberg’s sister gets confused about Facebook privacy 

Instagram

This photo sharing service found itself amidst a PR nightmare as a
result of its acquisition by Facebook-specifically regarding the new privacy
policy coming into effect Saturday, January 19.  We
understand you may be worried about the safety of your filtered selfies, food
porn and pictures of cats and we want to help you understand what all of this
means for you. 

Things you should know:
– Like Facebook, Instagram does not
own your photos.     
– Instagram heard the outrage regarding their updated stance on advertising
and as such, has reverted this section to the original terms of service from Oct 2010.
– The initial drafting of the updated privacy policy included confusing language,
leading users to believe that Instagram would be selling your photos. This is not
the case! However, just like Facebook, you have given them permission to use your photos without crediting you (or even notifying you.)
– It seems Instagram has learned from Facebook’s mistakes – the updated
terms of service that you (by subscribing to the service) agree to – protect
Instagram from class action lawsuits.

Twitter

You may be wondering “how much damage could one possibly do in 140
characters?” Well my friend, you obviously don’t follow Chris Brown. Like any social networking service, Twitter’s policy involves the sharing of
personal information and can affect your public persona and online presence.

Things you should know:
– Think before you tweet! Even if you have Twitter remorse and delete
your tweet, it still exists in the Twitterverse if it has been retweeted by other
users.  Also, anyone with the most basic
computer skills could take damning screenshots of your tweet. This happens, a lot, so think before you tweet.
– When you sign up for other websites or services using your Twitter
account, you are linking the accounts, thus allowing both websites access to
information on either site to use as they see fit  (This is usually used for sponsored tweets,
instant personalization and things of that nature).
– This should go without saying, but for those who use a separate personal
and professional twitter account, we cannot stress enough the importance of making sure you are logged into the correct one. These Twitter blunders are the biggest face-palm we see in our industry and are
also the most avoidable!

This is just a bare bones guide to navigating the world of social
media. Up here on the fourth floor,
while we celebrate the use of our social media and can’t say enough about the way
it has revolutionized our personal and professional lives, know that it is a
minefield out there. In any case, the best way to protect yourself online is to use common sense when you post anything, anywhere. Realistically, if you wouldn’t say it or do it in front of your sweet grandmother, should you really be posting it online for the whole world to see? We encourage
everyone to revisit the privacy policies of their social networking services
and join the discussion.








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